To Pimp a Butterfly

To Pimp a Butterfly

by Kendrick LamarKendrick Lamar


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Becoming an adult ultimately means accepting one's imperfections, unimportance, and mortality, but that doesn't mean we stop striving for the ideal, a search that's so at the center of our very being that our greatest works of art celebrate it, and often amplify it. Anguish and despair rightfully earn more Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, and Pulitzer Prizes than sweetness and light ever do, but West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar is already on elevated masterwork number two, so expect his version of the sobering truth to sound like a party at points. He's aware, as Bilal sings here, that "Shit don't change 'til you get up and wash your ass," and don't it feel good? The sentiment is universal, but the viewpoint on his second LP is inner-city and African-American, as radio regulars like the Isley Brothers (sampled to perfection during the key track "I"), George Clinton (who helps make "Wesley's Theory" a cross between "Atomic Dog" and Dante's Inferno), and Dr. Dre (who literally phones his appearance in) put the listener in Lamar's era of Compton, just as well as Lou Reed took us to New York and Brecht took us to Weimar Republic Berlin. These G-funky moments are incredibly seductive, which helps usher the listener through the album's 80-minute runtime, plus its constant mutating (Pharrell productions, spoken word, soul power anthems, and sound collages all fly by, with few tracks ending as they began), much of it influenced, and sometimes assisted by, producer Flying Lotus and his frequent collaborator Thundercat. "u" sounds like an MP3 collection deteriorating, while the broken beat of the brilliant "Momma" will challenge the listener's balance, and yet, Lamar is such a prodigiously talented and seductive artist, his wit, wisdom, and wordplay knock all these stray molecules into place. Survivor's guilt, realizing one's destiny, and a Snoop Dogg performance of Doggystyle caliber are woven among it all; plus, highlights offer that Parliament-Funkadelic-styled subversion, as "The Blacker the Berry" ("The sweeter the juice") offers revolutionary slogans and dips for the hip. Free your mind, and your ass will follow, and at the end of this beautiful black berry, there's a miraculous "talk" between Kendrick and the legendary 2Pac, as the brutalist trailblazer mentors this profound populist. To Pimp a Butterfly is as dark, intense, complicated, and violent as Picasso's Guernica, and should hold the same importance for its genre and the same beauty for its intended audience.

Product Details

Release Date: 03/16/2015
Label: Aftermath
UPC: 0602547270917
catalogNumber: 002295802
Rank: 1507

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kendrick Lamar   Primary Artist
Candace Wakefield   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Lalah Hathaway   Composer
Ernie Isley   Composer
Michael Jackson   Composer
Chris Jasper   Composer
Boris Gardiner   Composer
Fela Kuti   Composer
George Clinton   Composer
Stefan Gordy   Composer
Marvin Isley   Composer
O'Kelly Isley   Composer
Ronald Isley   Composer
Rudolph Isley   Composer
Rex Rideout   Composer
Rahsaan Patterson   Composer
Pharrell Williams   Composer
Sufjan Stevens   Composer
Tupac Shakur   Composer
Larrance Dopson   Composer
Ken Lewis   Composer
Brent Kolatalo   Composer
Stephen Bruner   Composer
Taz Arnold   Composer
Sam Barsh   Composer
James Fauntleroy   Composer
Steven Ellison   Composer
Josef Leimberg   Composer
Ahmad Lewis   Composer
Jeffrey Campbell   Composer
Marianna Evans   Composer
Terrace Martin   Composer
Matthew Samuels   Composer
Stephen Kozmeniuk   Composer
Sylvester Stewart   Composer
David Friley   Composer
Kendrick Duckworth   Composer
Ronald Colson   Composer
Alexander Izquierdo   Composer
Zale Epstein   Composer
Mark Spears   Composer
Fredrik Halldin   Composer
Matt Schaeffer   Engineer
Donte Perkins   Composer
Michael Brown   Composer
Rose McKinney   Composer
Columbus Smith   Composer
Glen Boothe   Composer
Johnny Burns   Composer

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